Disappointing as it is to catch nothing, the Law of Averages says the longer you keep at it, the more likely you are to eventually catch something. But, if you truly seem to be on a never-ending streak of bad luck, then maybe it’s worth revisiting some basic fishing tips.
Here are 5 fishing tips to turn that fly fishing slump into a slammer.
Ever fly fish in a freshly-stocked lake without the slightest nibble? Then there’s a good chance you are in the wrong spot (whether on shore or boat). As the old fishing tip goes, 90% of the fish are in 10% of the water, so the key is to seek out that particular 10%.
Be on the lookout for changes in terrain or vegetation or light along the shoreline or changes in the bottom of the water (such as rock shoals, docks, logs, weeds and grasses, etc.). This is likely a safer bet than in open water because we all know fish are wily creatures.
Light also plays a big role in where fish lurk. Look in the shadows or dappled areas where it is so much harder to see and you can be fairly sure there’ll be a potential catch hiding there.
Of course, this means you are going to be casting in tough spots (like docks, pipes, weeds, rocks, overhangs) so be prepared. You are probably going to lose a few handy lures and snap lines just in the trying! The tradeoff is that you are more likely to be successful in landing a catch.
Consider the season and have a good idea of what you are likely to catch. Use bait or lures recommended by local fishermen but if the fish aren’t biting what you’re serving, then try serving something different.
While there is a lot of logic to the selection of lures, sometimes a random choice can bring big rewards.
There’s a perennial argument about the pros and cons of live bait or not. It’s down to just using what works. It’s definitely a lot of trial and patience, but then, that’s really what fishing is about. We are, after all, trying to outfox a very cunning fish so we need to be just as cunning and think about what will entice them and that is a key fishing tip.
By the way, have you ever stopped to consider that your boat may be scaring away the fish? Fish are acutely aware of sound and vibration, even the noises you make within the boat or on shore. Just slamming a tackle box can alert fish to your presence, spooking them into the shadows and out of your path.
Match your fishing time with the time of day when fish feed and they are more likely to bite. Drag yourself out of bed early for the sunrise. It won’t take long to start enjoying the peace and quiet of that time of day. And at sunset, it’s easy to see the fish jumping for the flies and bugs making the chance of catching a fish a certainty. Basically because it’s cooler at the beginning and end of the day, the fish are more likely to be in the shallows then.
Fish are sluggish in the middle of the day and are hiding in deeper water where it is cooler. With the sun directly overhead it’s a lot easier for the fish to see your line in the water and your own shadows. At midday, feeding time has well passed so those elusive fish are going to need a lot of incentive to move out of their deeper cool hiding places.
The general rule of thumb when it comes to fish feeding times is to head out about a half an hour before sunrise and sunset (until dark). And it’s a magical time to be out too.
You can take a lot of the guesswork out of the timing if you simply tune in to what is happening around you. Animals (the fish, birds, mammals) start to come “alive” around the same time. The birds will chirping their songs, smaller animals will be scurrying about and the larger ones will seek out water. Nature loves the start and end of the days, and there’s nothing much better than casting in the calm of those times.
Clearly, being aware of what is going on around you is one of the most important fishing skills you can learn to become successful.
A less discussed fishing tip is about the weather. Weather shifts are often great time to get out and fish. Look for any kind of change such as an incoming storm, looming cloud cover, skies changing color. A change in weather can trigger feeding. Usually these moments are quite short and so they do require that you are readily available at short notice. But it can be very rewarding to head out for a quick fish at short notice to hook that big one you’ve been chasing for a while.
The seasons also make a difference to the likelihood of a catch. In summer heat look for cooler deeper waters. In winter, the fish are more likely to be in the shallows. A fishing tip that every old timer will give you!
Here’s a tip that points the finger back at you – in a nice way! Sometimes the “dry spell” problem may not be external, but internal. Patience and perseverance are important traits and can be just as vital as when and where you decide to fish. Sometimes it’s just a matter of believing you can, and keeping at it.
On the flip side, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, yet expecting different results.
As the old Kenny Rogers song goes, “You’ve got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em”.
It’s a fine line.
If your fishing pattern has fallen into a rut, try taking advice and switch things up. Do all or just one of these things and it will make a difference to your approach and attitude. Even when you aren’t hooking the big one, you’re still learning. As you cross the things off your list that aren’t working you’ll be open to new options.
Truth is, everyone goes through rough spots but there’s always something to be learned, even without a fish on the end of your hook.
Finally, if you are feeling a completely failure, hire a local guide.
They’ll review your technique, share information on the best gear, and show you places where you are more likely to land a catch. A good guide is only good because they help anglers catch fish. That’s what you may need; an outsider helping you and setting you off on a winning streak.
Get that motivation back again and get that great feeling of achievement.